Students Explore Forest Society's McCabe Forest

Harris Center for Conservation Education field trip for Antrim Elementary School students

Dave Anderson | April 21, 2023
hand touch wood frog egg mass

Antrim Elementary students gently touch wood frog egg mass at McCabe Forest. (Photo: Erin Pils-Martin)

Students from Antrim Elementary School visited the Forest Society's McCabe Forest Reservation in Antrim for a series of environmental learning activities during a field trip organized and led by Naturalist Kara Reynolds of The Harris Center for Conservation in Hancock, NH. 

Students look at a container of eggs found in a vernal pool.
The Forest Society
The students in 3rd and 4th grade classes were able to walk from their school to the nearby McCabe Forest to learn and explore habitats for terrestrial red back salamanders and carefully rolled logs to find salamanders living in the forest. Students also observed, listened and journaled about the sights and sounds from stations along the bank of the Contoocook River. 

Forest Society Senior Director of Education, Naturalist, Dave Anderson led students to vernal pools to learn about the spotted salamander and wood frogs migration and egg laying during the April breeding season in these temporary, fish-free pools.  Students saw and gently touched a few wood frog eggs collected from deeper portion of the pool (pictured) and walked the perimeter of pools with nets, small cups and trays to find invetebrates including snowfleas and small insects in the leaf litter. The actual wood frogs and spotted salamanders remained hidden under the leaf litter at the bottom of the pool.

Facilitating time for unstructured student exploration along the shoreline of pools and looking to see if eggs were present further out was the main activity. Students listened and asked great questions while considering how the vernal pool exclusively obligate amphibians - spotted salamanders and wood frogs - evolved to rely on vernal pools for breeding and how their April migration to natal pools could be fraught in more developed areas. 

The 189-acre McCabe Forest provides protected forestlands, former agricultural fields, forested wetlands, vernal pools and direct frontage along the Contoocook River.  In addition to the wildlife habitats, the opportunity for students to experience and explore community conservation land in their local community is a kind of "highest and best use" of this Forest Reservation.   

Special thanks to Kara Reynolds, the Harris Center for Conservation Education and the teachers, classroom aides and students at Antrim Elementary School for a wonderful day of learning at this Forest Society-owned property.